The year-end omnibus legislation included several broadband and connectivity expansion bills. The following will be implemented by NTIA.
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Three new grant programs: Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. A $1 billion program directed to tribal governments to be used for broadband deployment on tribal lands, as well as for telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion. Broadband Infrastructure Program. A $300 million broadband deployment program directed to partnerships between a state, or one or more political subdivisions of a state, and providers of fixed broadband service to support broadband infrastructure deployment to areas lacking broadband, especially rural areas. More information about the program, including requirements for grant applications, can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity published on grants.gov. Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program. A $285 million grant program to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) for the purchase of broadband internet access service and eligible equipment or to hire and train information technology personnel. Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives: An office established to focus on collaboration for internet access and promotion of digital skills and digital inclusion at HBCUs, TCUs, MSIs, and their surrounding communities, as well as on investment in infrastructure to expand connectivity and encourage further investment. Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth, through the ACCESS BROADBAND Act: An office tasked with performing certain responsibilities related to broadband access, adoption, and deployment, such as performing public outreach to promote access and adoption of high-speed broadband service and standardizing the process for applying for Federal broadband support. ACCESS BROADBAND also establishes coordination requirements among agencies that offer broadband deployment funding programs, to ensure Federal funds are spent efficiently and effectively. Broadband Interagency Coordination Act of 2020: Requires the NTIA, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Agriculture to enter into an interagency agreement to coordinate the distribution of Federal funds for broadband programs, to prevent duplication of support and ensure stewardship of taxpayer dollars.